Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Interior has ordered 40 Sikorsky helicopters in a deal valued at approximately $2 billion, the U.S.-based manufacturer announced here yesterday. The contract breaks down into 16 S-92 heavy twins, 15 S-76D medium twins and nine Schweizer 434 light singles. The contract calls for deliveries to begin in March 2008.
Like its predecessors, it would be the most widely recognized helicopter in the world– the personal transport for the world’s most powerful leader, a leader who has traveled by helicopter since the mid-1950s. And a leader who had traveled in the same make and almost the same model of American-made helicopter most of those days.
For years the aeromedical helicopters based in and around New York City and Washington have trained for massive urban disasters. Perhaps not as massive as the holocaust that the World Trade Center became–who could have imagined such a combination of terrorist act and terrifying high-rise fire climaxed by a multiple building collapse of geologic proportions?–but the kind of catastrophes big cities attract.
At a time when the progress of big-ticket military helicopter programs is measured in decades, it is worth noting that the first Boeing Sikorsky RAH-66 Comanche production line opened September 17 at Sikorsky’s Bridgeport, Conn. plant.
Sikorsky president Steve Finger said that Schweizer’s “ability for rapid prototyping makes the company an excellent choice for advanced concept evaluation and its focus on product safety aligns well with our own.” In fact, Schweizer is such a good match for Sikorsky that Finger bought the company. The sale of the Horseheads, N.Y.
The fifth and final prototype Sikorsky S-92 medium-twin transport helo, this one incorporating customer-inspired design changes and a new Rockwell Collins glass cockpit, made its first flight October 5 at Sikorsky Aircraft’s flight-test field in Stratford, Conn.
Sikorsky Aircraft last month recognized Keystone Helicopter
for its achievement in completing and delivering the 50th S-76C+ helicopter. The aircraft is earmarked for delivery to Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering. Keystone, in Coatsville, Pa., has been the principal completion center for the S-76C+ since 2000.
Sikorsky Aircraft has successfully ground tested fly-by-wire (FBW) technology that will debut on 28 H-92s slated for delivery in 2009 to Canadian military forces. The H-92 is the military variant of the S-92. Sikorsky partnered with BAE Systems to develop the FBW system.
Sikorsky is readying its X-2 demonstrator for flight tests late this year. The hybrid design, which looks like a helicopter with two contrarotating coaxial main rotors and one tail propulsor, already had its fly-by-wire system tested in a Schweizer 333. The actual X-2 has undergone engine and drive-train ground tests. Preliminary performance figures call for a 250-knot cruise speed and range of 500 nm.
Helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft has tapped Honeywell to develop synthetic-vision technology for Black Hawk pilots landing in brownout conditions. The $6.9 million contract is part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) so-called Sandblaster program.